Football-keeping neighbor sues parents

by Walter Olson on January 3, 2009

Ohio: “The 88-year-old Blue Ash woman arrested after refusing to give a 13-year-old neighborhood boy his football back after it landed in her yard has sued the youth’s parents, alleging emotional distress. The lawsuit by attorney H. Louis Sirkin on behalf of Edna Jester contends that Paul and Kelly Tanis “and their minor children ‘regularly and without permission’ enter Jester’s yard to retrieve footballs and other play items that have been ‘carelessly tossed’ onto her property, the suit adds. …The Blue Ash city solicitor and city prosecutor later dropped the misdemeanor theft charge filed against Jester after she refused a police officer’s order to return the Tanis boy’s football.” (Barry M. Horstman, “Football keeper files lawsuit”, Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 3).

{ 13 comments }

1 David Townsend 01.03.09 at 5:14 am

I am not entirely certain where my sympathies lie in this matter. Whilst I agree that the lawsuit will probably help no-one in this matter, the parents were presumably the people who got Ms. Jester arrested by calling a police officer to deal with a matter of a withheld football.

2 Ted 01.03.09 at 7:33 am

The parents, however, did try to mediate the matter, and Jester and Sirkin refused.

3 Todd Rogers 01.03.09 at 4:11 pm

Eighty eight, huh? Perhaps a few lengthy motions and continuances would provide for a smooth and ultimate remdedy. If not, a can of neighborly whoop-ass might do the trick.

4 Bill Poser 01.03.09 at 10:16 pm

Surely the matter of returning a football tossed onto someone’s property is a civil matter, not theft. It seems to me that while it was reasonable for the police officer to attempt to mediate, he acted without lawful authority in ordering the woman to return the football and in arresting her.

5 David Townsend 01.04.09 at 5:12 am

Having re-read the article, my sympathies have veered slightly more towards the parents as the lawsuit does not seem to be about the arrest but about the mental anguish of having your neighbours footballs and frisbees land on your lawn. I am having trouble seeing a great deal of harm in that fact. On the other hand, when it says ‘Although the Tanises wonder how such a seemingly small issue could mushroom into a lawsuit…’ I would argue that the molehill to mountain sequence was activated when the Tanises called the police.

6 fjjfn nnn 01.04.09 at 9:23 am

Maybe there should be a section on crazy old people suing kids. There was the cookie lady, the ski-crash-conman, now this.

7 SmokeVanThorn 01.04.09 at 11:09 am

Mr. Rodgers – I feel sorry for your neighbors.

8 Melvin H. 01.04.09 at 11:43 am

Smoke–in what context do you “feel sorry” fo Mr. “Rodgers” neighbors? (Or is this a play on words for an old PBS show?)

9 Todd Rogers 01.05.09 at 9:29 am

Oddly, as I read this, I have to say, this is nearly identical to the one my three brothers and I experienced as kids (79-92). Our neighbors sued us no less than three times in small claims. They also filed complaints with the local PD on at least a dozen occasions and my parents’ journal has records of about $500 in fines. While home on leave from Desert Storm, I was arrested and put in the clink for allegedly vandalizing their home. I was released within minutes after the PD found some kids who spilled the beans. Nevertheless, this saga went on for years. Old man Early even parked his running car, with the horn perpetually blowing, right outside my sister’s window, who was, at the time, going through chemo for Hodgkins (which the Earlys knew). This doesn’t change the facts of the case. But I do have a slight personal interest in this story. My folks waited the Earlys out, by the way, and did not attend either funeral.

10 kelly tanis 01.05.09 at 8:44 pm

We didn’t have her arrested. We asked for the ball back. We asked to have the charges dropped, and they were for lack of wont of prosecution. It is illegal in Ohio to take something from your own property and refuse to give it back to the rightful owner. No one trespassed on Edna’s property, which is why the ball was there for her to get. No one has seen or talked to Edna since this happened, and we have no idea why she filed this lawsuit. According to people calling in to local stations, she has been making the claim that it distresses her to have children playing in her neighborhood for over thirty years. My husband cut her grass and shoveled her driveway for over six years. The closest thing to trespassing that has occurred most recently was when my husband put tomatoes on her porch and Edna invited him in to sit down with her and talk. He was there for over an hour. That was a week before she took my son’s ball. My son apologized to Edna, nothing more. My husband asked for the ball, and she told him to call our neighborhood liaison officer. He called the dispatch, and she refused to give the ball back and instructed the officers to arrest her. My husband asked that she not be arrested. If you look at articles from the Cincinnati Enquirer, you will find that they did their due dilligence in reporting this situation – they got the transcripts from the police dispatch officer and proved my husband asked the officers to lay off of Edna. Sirkin has been conveniently out of town until this coming Wednesday. Until then, we have no idea why this suit was filed. No one has entered her property since the day my husband gave her tomatoes from our garden. That’s all we know. We just wish people would stop making outrageous assumptions.

11 Sharon Watkins 01.06.09 at 10:22 am

What would have happened if Ms. Jester had fallen or tripped on the ball? What if she had been hit by it? Would the family have bothered to pay the medical bills? I seriously doubt it, that money would have come out of Medicare. Ms. Tanis’ comments made me laugh, it sounds like she’s trying to say “we didn’t do anything” IMO. It’s a little late for that, you made a big issue over your child’s ball (LOL) and now you’re family is paying for it. My grandmother was 93 when she died, frail but in her right mind and able to get about, had she been subjected to the stress of an arrest and all of this hoopla she would have suffered emotional distress as well. So Ms. Tanis IMO you brought all of this on yourself, and I hope you have to pay the piper in the end.

12 Todd Rogers 01.06.09 at 11:21 am

…and with that, I now take the number two spot as the most callous participant on this blog. I’ll be back on top before too long.

13 Benji 01.06.09 at 12:30 pm

@11: Maybe Jester trips over the ball and the neighbors stiff her on the medical bills. Maybe a burglar fleeing Jester’s home trips over the ball. Maybe the kids discover, in the course of retrieving their ball, that Jester is injured and incapable of phoning for assistance. Maybe the incoming ball enrages a wild bear that kills them all.
I don’t think it’s fair to say the Tanis family deserves to be sued because something MIGHT happen as a result of the ball being there and the Tanis family MIGHT try to dodge responsibility for the outcome.

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